5 best Upstate NY microbreweries + 2 new ones

Tap handles for St. Lawrence Brewing Company, St. Lawrence county's first microbrewery. They plan to start selling beer in March. Photo by David Sommerstein.

OK, it's Super Bowl weekend.  Let's talk beer.

According to the New York State Brewers Association's list, there are more than a hundred breweries across New York.  Two of the newest are in the North Country.

Saranac Lake's Blue Line brewery opened recently in an old car wash, according to my friend, Hugo, who happened upon it last weekend.  His report was positive, and he liked the marketing line for their "APA IPA" – "the only APA everyone likes!"

Meanwhile, here in Canton, the St. Lawrence Brewing Company is moving equipment into a warehouse in St. Lawrence County's new industrial zone as we speak.  How we know Canton is a small town (and my disclosure): one friend of mine is making their tap handles (see picture), another is smithing the curly-cue metal for those handles.

Co-owner Ken Hebb says he expects to start selling beer this spring:

Generally, we are moving along nicely. There is still equipment we need to get on site to really get set up. Fermenters, canning machine, malt mill.  Taproom finishes are coming along. We are starting some of the finish wood work. Tables and such. Need to get the bar frame built and get the bar moved in.

St. Lawrence Brewing Company co-owner Ken Hebb with the new tanks. Photo by David Sommerstein.

Governor Cuomo has proposed a new $2 million program called Taste-NY to promote local food products in his budget, including breweries like these.  Stores at high-traffic thruway rest stops and "next-generation luxury vending machines" (whatever that means) would promote and sell New York made food, beer, and liquor.  The New York Farm Bureau likes the idea.

Meanwhile, long-established breweries are thriving across the North Country and the entire state.  Five of my favorites:

  • Davidson Brothers Brew Pub, Glens Falls – great ambiance, live music often, and their Dacker Ale may be my favorite beer made in New York State.
  • Lake Placid Pub & Brewery – a cross-country ski in the High Peaks simply has to end with some food and an Ubu Ale at this bustling, ski bum pub on Mirror Lake.
  • Matt Brewing Company, Utica – otherwise known as the Saranac folks, this massive brewery continues to lead the New York "microbrew" movement and has become an icon.
  • CB's Brewing Company, Honeoye Falls – though they don't say it on their website, it appears this brewery makes the Piledriver, one of my favorite, very hoppy IPAs I get at my favorite bar in Buffalo.
  • Three Heads Brewery, Rochester – a relatively new brewery that features beers with strong flavors and awesome label art and design.

So, obviously, the huge question: what's your favorite brewery in New York State?  What's the best homegrown brew?


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  1. Naked Dove Brewing Company (http://www.nakeddovebrewing.com/) is one of, if not my favorite NY breweries, and is a must try if you're in the Finger Lakes.

  2. Check out Good Nature Brewery in Hamilton. Makes me wish I still drank!

  3. Find these and every other brewery in NY (as well as all of the U.S. and Canada) on http://www.pubquest.com. Cheers!

  4. Neat to hear your intrest in craft beer. We don't call it all "microbrew" anymore since some really good beers are coming from bigger brewerys and there's the new nano breweries. So it's nano at less than 7 barrels per batch, micro to about 15,000 barerels anually and regoinals like FX Matt and Old Saratoga. By then way, FX Matt is now making the UBU and Chris Ericssen of Lake Placid Brewing is working with them on more good stuff. Check out more at Ale Street News and Yankee Brew News. I'm at Cooper's Cave Ale Company in Glens Falls.

    • Yeah, "craft beer". Much better, esp. talking about brews like Saranac or Lake Placid. And I've never heard of Cooper's Cave, gotta check it out next time I'm down there! Thanks for checking in, Kent.

  5. I am an avid home brewer and I am very interested in starting a NANO Brewery/Brew Pub.I haven't really decided which route I would go.I would like to start with a 2 or 3 bbl system and would appreciate any information as to what steps I need to take to get started.

  6. I have about 15 acres of rich agricultural land near Paradox, NY that i would like to lease next year, starting May 2014, for hops growing. How do i contact interested businesses? thanks!

  7. If anyone is looking for a location to start/expand craft beer brewing, please check out Leroy, NY (Genesee County)- There are some prime properties that are available (one in an historic building right next to the Oatka Creek), tax incentives to be had, and a number of additional retail outlets right there to sell your product- Email or call (585-768-6910 x231) me, the Town Supervisor, if you'd like to talk further or visit- Thanks and happy brewing!